6,488 – Number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012
11,766 – Number of American women who were murdered by current or ex-male partners between 2001 and 2012
4,774,000 – Number of women in the U.S. who experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year
Every 9 seconds – A woman is beaten by an intimate partner in the United States
We Eagles fans have another reason to hate the Dallas Cowboys these days, namely, that they employ domestic abuser, Greg Hardy, whom Jerry Jones calls a team leader.
To rehash the facts in brief, Greg Hardy, then a star defensive end with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, was accused of assaulting a woman by throwing her against a bathtub wall, tossing her on a futon covered in assault rifles and choking her. He was convicted in a bench trial, the charges dismissed on appeal and expunged after the victim stopped cooperating. Public outcry arose when pictures of the victim’s bruising were published. In the Ray Rice case, only after video emerged showing him knock his future wife unconscious with a punch, was the public outraged.
In the early 1990’s I was an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia. During that period, Siran Stacy was an Eagles’ top draft pick and a running back. He was accused of kicking his fiancée in the abdomen causing a fractured rib, ruptured spleen and punctured lung. At trial, his fiancée testified that she lied to the police and instead had fallen on a coffee table causing her injuries. The jury acquitted Mr. Stacy. The link to an article published in the Philadelphia Daily News is attached.(http://articles.philly.com/1994-12-03/news/25856200_1_brutality-charge-defense-lawyer-verdict)
Even though the verdict was for Siran Stacy and against conviction, I was quoted in the Daily News as saying “I hope that Siran Stacy learns what potential dangers lurk out there for him if he is ever to abuse her, or any other woman. I think that it was tremendously important to proceed with this trial because of the severity of the injury, and because of the prior instances of abuse, despite the fact that the victim did not want to proceed. The dangers that existed at the time of this trial, still exist in her life. This jury has not helped Siran Stacy to understand that he has a problem with controlling his temper and controlling the violence that he perpetrates on the woman that he is with when he becomes violent. Hopefully, the lesson for the defendant is in the process even the though the lesson did not come in the result.”
What I said in 1994, is true today. It is essential that we as a people, despite the wishes of a victim of domestic violence, pursue punishment against those who perpetrate it. To explain how pervasive violence against women is in this country, think about this statistic: the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex-male partners during that time was 11,766. The number of women in the United States who experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year is 4,774,000. A woman is beaten by an intimate partner every 9 seconds in the United States.
The number one reason domestic violence survivors stay or return to the abusive relationship is because the abuser controls their money supply, leaving them with no financial resources to break free. Certainly, money played a role in Greg Hardy’s accuser refusing to cooperate with the prosecution, as she went quiet after receiving a monetary settlement. Ray Rice’s fiancée refused to cooperate with prosecutors in the case against him. Certainly, I suspect, money played a role in Siran Stacy’s fiancée telling a jury that she lied to the police and that she fell on a coffee table to cause her significant and serious injuries.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. The issue, however, is important to me. We must choose, as a society, to be less cynical in situations where women are unwilling to participate or cooperate with law enforcement after being abused.
Law enforcement should be encouraged to accumulate evidence for conviction that does not rely upon the testimony of the abused intimate partner who may have a number of reasons to not cooperate with authorities. Prosecutors should be encouraged to proceed with domestic violence cases even when the victim is unwilling to prosecute or testify. Abusers are bullies and the only way to stop a bully is to put fear in him that his actions will have serious ramifications which he is incapable of manipulating.
Let’s criminally convict those bullies and worry about the victim’s wishes and concerns at the sentencing stage.
Tony Baratta is a trial attorney in Huntingdon Valley, PA who represents clients who have been seriously injured including due to medical mistakes. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and on the board for the Philadelphia VIP. Tony is a Nationally Certified Civil Trial Advocate, AV Rated Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbel and a member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). He is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys and voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers 2008-2015.